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Summer #9: Three Commitments That Keep Me Steady
PLUS: A request for recipes, getting your mojo back, and some serious flowery eye candy in Mexico.
Several years ago, I encountered a simple idea that transformed the way I eat.
Until that point, I’d built up a lifetime of food anxiety. My relationship with eating had always been fraught, with many emotional problems and insecurities playing out at the dinner table.
But I loved food and I loved to cook and I wanted to be healthy more than anything, so I worked to make peace with my body and the way I ate. I wanted to take care of myself, but without the obsession and guilt that often accompanies monitoring every bite of food.
So here’s the simple idea I learned that changed things for me:
Make 3 nutritional commitments. That’s it.
These commitments could be anything that’s important to you personally. Examples might be to have something green at every meal, to limit your sugar intake to a certain amount, to always have a healthy snack with you, or to take at least 20 minutes to enjoy each meal. Whatever works for you.
I loved that this approach offered a middle path. It is personal, sustainable, easy, and enjoyable. It allows me to prioritize health without stress. I don’t worry about getting it right 100% of the time, just meeting a few simple commitments as much as I can. And if I don’t, there’s always the next day.
It’s so easy to drain the joy from even the most life-affirming activities, like eating. Most of this comes from all the expectations we place on ourselves, in turn driven by the images and expectations we see around us.
Lately, I’ve begun to wonder if a loose structure like this might help me overcome unrealistic expectations in other areas of my life.
While on my recent sabbatical, I realized just how crippling those expectations have been. I often find myself worrying about not doing enough, as I struggle not only with the obligations I have, but with the things I actually want to do.
I have serious issues with FOMO. I feel it about all the creative projects I want to do, I feel it about all the practices that keep me mentally healthy, I feel it about exercise, and I feel it about socializing and relationships. It never feels like enough.
I began to wonder: if a simple structure around something as pleasurable as eating could help me stay sane, could I do the same for other areas of my life?
With that idea in mind, I decided to give myself 3 commitments to keep me grounded and steady.
The idea is to keep these commitments highly achievable. They should be easy enough that with bare minimum effort, even on a bad day, I can make them happen.
They should also be enough to keep me satisfied. If I only do these 3 things, I can feel that I treated myself well that day.
My 3 Commitments
These are the 3 commitments I came up with and that I try to follow each day.
Meditate daily. It can be for 30 seconds. It can be a 2 minute savassana after I stretch in the evening. It can be guided, or an hour long sit. Again, I want this to be highly achievable, so length of time is not important.
Get intense exercise 4 times a week. This really improves my clarity and mental health. Personally, I like lifting heavy weights and hiking. I used to run, and might take that up again when Lucy gets older. This one is easy for me because I really enjoy it.
Go outside every day. This sounds silly, especially now that I have Lucy, but there have definitely been periods in winter that I don’t go outside for multiple days. Direct sunlight is pretty important to our energy and rhythms, and I know I’m a happier person when I breathe fresh air.
That’s it. Extremely doable, extremely basic.
One other note on this practice: When it comes to food, I try to never recriminate myself for not meeting a commitment. It’s really not a big deal, and the idea is just to do my best and expect imperfection. I’ve tried to apply the same approach with these commitments as well. No guilt, just gentle guidance in the right direction.
If you struggle with “shoulds” in the way that I do, this might be a practice for you too. Let me know if you have any of your own commitments like this already! It might inspire ideas for others.
Request for recipes!
It’s blackberry season around here, and they are wild, bountiful, and delicious. I’ve filled up 4 huge containers like this already. Half are in the freezer, but I’m debating what to do with the rest. Last year, I simply canned them, but I’d like to try some different ideas.
What are your favorite berry recipes, or ways of preserving them? Let me know! Maybe I’ll round up the ideas later, since you all seemed to like my last food-related round up.
Head, Heart, Hands
Things to make us think, feel, and do.
How to get your mojo back. I think the concept of languishing is a really useful one for recognizing when you need a boost, before things get worse.
These photos of the garden at La Musa De Las Flores are really inspiring me to revamp my dahlia garden and plant more flowers generally next year.
This house with attached shop in Bath is like the setting of a novel. Anyone want to move with me, sell tea and pastries, read books all day, and learn to play the cello?
I made these chocolate greek yogurt muffins this week, but substituted pumpkin for banana (because I had leftover pumpkin from making dog treats). Really delicious as a post-workout snack, or with yogurt and fruit for breakfast. I used big chunks of chopped dark chocolate on top.
Also, I made this fresh cherry bundt cake for my sister’s birthday, and it was a hit.